Mumbai Police’s Economic Offence Wing say they procured body bags for COVID-19 deceased at three times the market rate
The Economic Offence Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police has booked former Mayor Kishori Pednekar, and senior BMC officials and contractors for allegedly duping the government by procuring body bags for COVID-19 deceased at an inflated rate.
The FIR registered on Saturday at the Agripada police mentioned that the bags, which were procured through tendering, were three times costlier than the market price, and that one company was favoured by the mayor and other BMC officials.
They have been charged under sections 409 (misappropriation), 418 (cheating with knowledge that wrongful loss may ensure to person whose interest offence is bound to protect), 420 (cheating) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC. The FIR mentioned the name of former mayor of the city Kishorie Pednekar, then Additional Municipal Commissioner (projects), then deputy municipal commissioner (central purchase department ) and officials of Vedanta Innotech Pvt Ltd.
The irregularities were unearthed during the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) probe in the alleged Jumbo COVID centre scam, in which the dean of the centre and partner of a company, Sujit Patkar, were arrested recently.
According to the FIR, in April 2020, the BMC had issued an expression of Interest (EoI) for the procurement of 1,000 body bags for COVID-19 deceased patients. After tendering and testing, Vedanta Innotech Pvt Ltd was identified as an eligible vendor. The BMC procured 1,000 bags at the rate of Rs 6,719 per bag. A second EOI was issued in April and more bags were procured, but when the third EOI was issued Care One Solution offered to supply body bags at Rs 2,583 per bag.
“Vedanta provided 1,200 bags to BMC for which a payment of Rs 80.62 lakh was made, while Care One was providing 100 bags at the rate of Rs 2,925, almost three times cheaper than the rate at which bags were getting purchased from Vedanta,” said a police official. The probe revealed that the ex-mayor with other BMC officials favoured Vedanta and committed criminal breach of trust of public funds amounting to Rs 50 lakh.
Former MP Kirit Somaiya had submitted an application to the Mumbai Police last month, alleging a scam in purchase of various goods, including masks, body bags etc during COVID-19 period. “More
FIRs will be filed soon,” he claimed.